Drobo 4 Bay
The World’s Easiest-to-Use Storage Array
The Drobo 4-Bay is no longer available and has been replaced by the new Drobo 5C, click here!
Additional Hard Drives can be found with the following links:
Western Digital | Seagate
The Drobo is the latest generation of the award-winning platform that started it all. It holds true to the unique design and simplicity that has made Drobo the best desktop storage solution for storing and protection all your data. No storage expertise is required to ensure your data is always safe and protected.
Inside every Drobo is the revolutionary BeyondRAID storage technology that protects data against a hard disk crash, yet is simple enough for anyone to use. As long as you have more than a single disk in Drobo, all data on Drobo is safe no matter which hard disk fails. There’s no need to worry about anything else.
Drobo: The Most Advanced 4-Bay Drobo Ever
This third generation of the Drobo is more affordable than ever and features a completely new architecture making it more than 3x faster than the previous generation. More impressive, rebuild times are 4x faster delivering maximum data availability in the event of a drive failure. With the inclusion of battery backup technology, Drobo provides even more data protection in the face of an unplanned power outage.
The latest generation of the Drobo 4-bay holds true to the unique design and simplicity that has made Drobo the best desktop storage solution for storing and protection all your data. No storage expertise is required to ensure your data is always safe and protected. Best of all your Drobo will be ultra quiet and look great on your desk.
Built on our award-winning BeyondRAID technology, the Drobo 5N protects your data without any intervention – even in the event of multiple drive failures. You can even switch from single to dual disk redundancy with a single click, ensuring enterprise-level dual parity data protection when required. Drobo’s with BeyondRAID are also self-healing and have virtual hot-spares. If a drive happens to fail, Drobo will automatically re-layout the data to return to a protected state without disruption.
Drobo takes the up front guess work out of determining the amount of capacity you require. Buy the capacity you need today, and when you need more storage, simply replace your smallest drive with a larger one and immediately use that capacity in seconds. You can even mix and match drive brands, capacities and speeds.
To further enhance your experience, every Drobo comes with Smart Volume technology. Smart Volumes are thinly provisioned volumes that automatically utilise capacity as needed from a common pool of storage. Additionally, as data is deleted, free capacity is returned to that common pool, immediately increasing the available capacity.
BeyondRAID along with Smart Volumes deliver next-generation storage technology by bringing together enhanced data protection, reliability, expandability, and ease-of-use.
Data Protection Made Simple
Drobo is simply the easiest to manage storage solution available. Like all Drobo products, the third generation Drobo is built upon the awardwinning BeyondRAID™ technology. BeyondRAID can be configured to protect against one or two simultaneous drive failures with just one click, automatically protecting your data without any user intervention. In addition, you can purchase the capacity that you need now and increase space by adding drives into empty slots, or by swapping smaller drives with larger ones. When you do, the additional capacity is instantly available.
Drobo takes upgradability to the next level. Not only can you upgrade capacity as drives become more affordable and drive capacities increase with no downtime by adding or swapping in larger drives, you can also seamlessly upgrade to the latest platform Drobo has to offer. The process of upgrading is as simple as removing the existing disk pack from your previous generation system, and moving it to your new Drobo. Upgrading to the latest and greatest technology not only gives you an instant performance boost, but also delivers all the new features and benefits of your new Drobo.
Enhanced Backup for Time Machine
Time Machine and Drobo: A Perfect Pairing
Apple’s Time Machine was designed to make backing up your files simple and painless. Pairing Time Machine with Drobo improves your data protection by ensuring your data is safe in the event of hard drive failure.
Control How Much Storage Time Machine Uses
Apple’s guidelines are to set the storage space for Time Machine at twice the size of the Mac’s hard drive that is to be protected and Time Machine users know that it will gradually use all available disk space without an easy way to stop this from happening. With Drobo you can easily control the maximum storage space available for Time Machine backups through Drobo Dashboard. When you install a Drobo, Drobo Dashboard, prompts to see if you want to create a dedicated storage volume for Time Machine’s use allowing you to set the size of this volume.
Upgrading With the Remarkable Drobo
Once you experience how easy it is to use a Drobo you’ll know there is nothing that compares – but that isn’t the only remarkable thing about it.
Drobo takes upgradability to the next level. Not only can you upgrade capacity with no downtime by adding new drives or replacing smaller drives with larger ones, you can seamlessly upgrade to a new Drobo by simply removing the disk pack from your current system, and moving it to a new Drobo. Upgrading not only gives you an instant performance boost, but also delivers all the other benefits of the new Drobo.
Power Protecting Your Critical Data
Drobo doesn’t just protect you from a drive failure, but also from potential data loss after a power outage. This latest generation of Drobo includes battery backup technology that protects all data in memory or cache. When power spontaneously goes away, Drobo moves any in-flight data to onboard flash in your Drobo so it will be protected. The protected data will be moved to your disk drives once power is restored. This ensures your important information is safe and sound. Even better, your battery recharges itself and is designed to last for the life of you Drobo.
Designed for You
Drobo devices have always been space efficient and this latest Drobo is no exception. It has been designed to provide high capacity without taking up a lot of your valuable desk space. It is compact because of Drobo's unique carrier-less drive bay design, allowing drives to be installed very close to each other.
Our world-class DroboCare support offers powerful protection for all Drobo products. Whether you depend on Drobo for your photo collection or critical business data, our trained professionals are available around the clock to help. In addition to extending technical phone support, DroboCare offers a wide array of benefits over our standard warranty including migration assistance, expedited hardware and rescue kits to ensure you get everything you need, when you need it.
What's BeyondRAID? Storage without limitations.
BeyondRAID technology, built into every Drobo, delivers all of the benefits of traditional RAID, while providing much more and leaving many of the limitations behind. This next-generation of redundant storage technology brings together enhanced protection, reliability, expandability, and ease-of-use.
Drobos, based on BeyondRAID, interact with computing systems in the same manner as storage arrays using traditional RAID, so installing a Drobo allows you to maintain your current operating system and file system. This eliminates the challenges and costs when moving to a new storage technology.
Problems with Traditional RAID
Developed in the 1980s, RAID (Redundant Array of Inexpensive Disks) was designed to pool disk drives together for increased capacity and reliability for data storage. It has been preventing single disk drive failures causing data loss, and has been used in almost every enterprise data center for decades.
While reliable, the complexity of RAID is a huge challenge for small businesses and consumers. RAID has a high learning curve with many options, levels, and unfamiliar terminology like striping, mirroring, and parity.
There are several primary challenges with traditional RAID:
- Lock-in of RAID Levels
To change RAID levels, most storage arrays require the data to be moved off, reconfigured, and then moved back on. If you want to move to RAID 6 from RAID 5 for protection against two drive failures, you need to reinitialise and start over. This process could take days to complete.
- Lack of Expandability
Once drives are configured into a RAID pool, expandability is impossible unless you have a lot of time, or experience. If you want to add more storage capacity, the solution is to create a new RAID pool, leaving you with another chunk of storage to manage – or you can just reinitialise and start over.
- Drive Failures Create Big Risks
When a drive fails, most RAID implementations enter a state where data loss will occur if another drive falters before the user replaces the failed drive. Also, performance is hampered when in this debilitated state.
Moving Beyond RAID
Drobo’s BeyondRAID technology solves the fundamental issues that traditional RAID can’t. Built on the foundation of traditional RAID, BeyondRAID adds a layer of virtualisation that chooses the correct protection algorithm based on data availability needs at any given moment. Since the technology works at the block level, it can write blocks of data that alternate between RAID protection levels.
If you need to add storage capacity to a Drobo, simply insert additional disk drives or replace the smallest disks with larger ones – no need to change RAID levels, purchase a new storage array, or go through the complex administration of pooling RAID groups.
The BeyondRAID feature can even switch from single to dual disk redundancy with just the click of your mouse through Drobo Dashboard. This ensures enterprise-level dual parity data protection, when needed. If a drive happens to fail, Drobo will automatically re-layout the data to the remaining drives, returning it to a protected state with no user interaction.
|Available Features||RAID 1||RAID 5||RAID 6||Everyone Else with RAID||BeyondRAID|
|Supports Two Drives|
|Supports Three Drives|
|Support Four Drives or More|
|Single Disk Redundancy|
|Dual Disk Redundancy||1|
|Mixed Drive Utilisation|
|Mixed Drive Utilisation|
|Automatic Protection Levels|
|Virtual Hot Spare|
* Some vendors (e.g. Synology) offer some options, though they require manual choices / configuration.
1 Available with 5-bay or Larger Drobos
2 Available with iSCSI-capable Drobos
Thin Provisioning is a fundamental capability of BeyondRAID, allowing for infinite capacity expansion by just replacing a drive with a larger one.
Instant Expansion occurs when a new, or larger, drive is inserted without any disruption in service.
Drobo's volumes are Smart Volumes, pulling needed storage from a common pool and then returning deleted blocks back to the common pool, preventing free space from being tied up by any particular server.
Mixed Drive Utilisation allows you to insert any drive, of any size, or any type, and Drobo will optimally use it - check out our interactive Capacity Calculator.
Automatic Protection Levels ensures the best algorithm is used to protect from drive failure depending on the number of drives that are inserted, without any user configuration. There is no need to learn about RAID levels or what mirroring or striping is.
Dual Disk Redundancy enhances BeyondRAID protection by guarding from multiple drive failures in a short period of time. Even if two drives fail, BeyondRAID will attempt to use the remaining drives to return to a protected state.
Virtual Hot Spare utilises all drives at all time with no drives sitting idle waiting for one to fail. With some traditional RAID systems, a drive can be marked as a "hot spare", waiting on standby for a drive failure so it can take over. That's just a unutilised drive that you have to pay for taking up a valuable drive bay.
Drobos are Data Aware, intelligently handling data for added resiliency, performance, and management. Being Data Aware allows the Drobo to have a capacity gauge on the front, quickly recover in the event of a drive failure, enable intelligent tiering of data, and much more.
Drive Re-ordering allows Drobo disk packs to be moved to another Drobo, and even re-ordered, while still functioning - try that with RAID.
How BeyondRAID Works
Now that we've looked at how BeyondRAID compares with traditional RAID and the value that it brings, let's see how BeyondRAID works.
The sections of the RAID stack are drastically reinvented in a Drobo—and it all has to
do with how drives are pooled (disk pack) and the way data is stored (BeyondRAID virtualisation).
Thin Provisioning with Smart Volumes
Our volumes are just smarter. Thin provisioning through Drobo's Smart Volumes provides on-demand allocation of storage providing maximised capacity utilisation. Smart Volumes are a virtual volume architecture that pull needed storage, on-demand, from a common pool (thin provisioning) and then return any deleted blocks back to the common pool (thin reclamation), allocating these newly available blocks to free space immediately available for new data.
Space allocation is automatically managed, maximising storage resources. For example, if a large file on a volume is deleted, the free space of the Drobo gets larger. The freed up space is then available to other volumes. Our Volumes are Smart, even enterprise-class arrays with thin provisioning do not return consumed storage back to a common pool at this granular level.
Most modern storage arrays aggregate disks and prevent against single drive failures using a 20-year-old technology called RAID (Redundant Array of Independent Disks). While RAID has served many businesses well, it requires up-front knowledge of its functionality and has many shortcomings. BeyondRAID technology built into every Drobo addresses these shortcomings and makes virtualising disk drives usable by everyone. BeyondRAID provides these enhancements over traditional RAID:
- Thin Provisioning as a fundamental capability allows for infinite capacity expansion by just replacing a drive with a larger one
- Instant Expansion occurs when a new, or larger, drive is inserted without any disruption in service
- Mixed Drive Utilisation allows you to insert any drive, of any size, or any type, and Drobo will optimally use it - check out our interactive Capacity Calculator
- Automatic Protection Levels ensures the best algorithm is used to protect from drive failure depending on the number of drives that are inserted without any user configuration
- Dual Disk Redundancy enhances BeyondRAID protection by guarding from multiple drive failures
- Virtual Hot Spare utilises all drives at all time - no drives sitting idle waiting for one to fail
- Drobos are Data Aware, intelligently handling data for added resiliency, performance, and management
- Drive Re-ordering allows Drobo disk packs to be moved to another Drobo, and even re-ordered, while still functioning - try that with RAID
Drobo Dashboard Management
Drobo Dashboard is the single tool to centrally manage all of your Drobos. Drobo Dashboard gives you status as if all of your Drobos were right in front of you by providing you the same status lights and capacity guage that are on the front panel. All adminitration tasks are a single click away and there's even a built-in data protection tool called Drobo Copy to easily copy data to and from your Drobo. Simply, it's the easiest way to configure and manage business-class storage.
Learn more about Drobo Dashboard.
Enhanced Time Machine Support
Apple’s Time Machine can consume all of the capacity of an external storage system without a simple way to set capacity limits. Utilizing Drobo Dashboard the new Drobo allows users to easily allocate a specific amount of capacity to be dedicated for backups and preserves the remaining pace for data storage.
File and Operating System Agnostic
Drobo and its underlying BeyondRAID technology currently support the Windows and Mac platforms, with file system support for NTFS, HFS+ and FAT32. Since Drobo is a block level system, it easily adapts to almost any environment.
Mixed Drive Capacity Utilisation
Grow storage to meet your data capacity needs with minimal effort. To add capacity, simply insert a new hard disk or replace the smallest disk with a larger one, even when all four disk bays are full. Unlike traditional RAID systems, the BeyondRAID technology enables IT managers to efficiently mix and match disk brands, capacities, and speeds. This allows for continuous expansion as disk capacities grow. Now, expansion is automatic, instantaneous and access to data is always maintained.
To find out exactly how much free capacity you'll have with your choice of disk capacities, try out our interactive Capacity Calculator.
Drobo can ensure your data is safe even if a hard disk fails. You'll feel safer knowing that if disks do fail, Drobo automatically enters a state of self-healing wherein it relays out your data across the remaining healthy disks and sectors.
Proportional Rebuild Times
The time it takes Drobo to rebuild data after a drive failure or removal is proportional to the amount of data stored in the pool — meaning the less capacity that is used, even on a 2TB disk, the shorter your rebuild times will be. This is superior to traditional RAID, which lacks proportional rebuild times, and is forced relay out every drive block even if it does not contain user data.
Since Drobo is "Data Aware", it tracks where data is on each disk, so it can differentiate between used and unused portions of disk. This expedites rebuild times and reduces your risk of losing data to an additional disk failure. In short, your data is safer on a Drobo.
When Drobo detects a "bad" hard disk, it proactively advises you with a series of warnings ranging from a blinking red LED on its front panel, to pop-up alerts in Drobo Dashboard, to email alerts. What Drobo does next is exceptional. It enters a self-healing mode where it repairs around the bad sector or disk, and will work until it returns to the safest state possible. If Drobo has sufficient time and free capacity (indicated by all lights returning to a solid green state), it can even withstand additional hard disk failures — that's the power of self-healing.
BeyondRAID was designed from the ground up to allow the storage capacity of the array to expand and contract. BeyondRAID makes this a simple process by utilising a technology called "virtualisation." Virtualisation provides a layer of abstraction between the data requested by the file system and the physical location of that data on the disk drives. A given piece of data can be located on any drive, and on any physical location on that drive. This is what makes adding a drive to a Drobo so simple. The new drive just provides additional places to store data.
Virtualisation is what enables BeyondRAID to effortlessly change the data arrangement on the drives, for example, changing data stored as a mirror into data stored as parity stripe, without interrupting the user access to data. Virtualisation completely decouples the physical space available in the array from the space reported to the operating system. This is how BeyondRAID is able to eliminate the need to manually expand/contract the file system as more space becomes available or is removed.
Thin provisioning is a technical term that describes how the BeyondRAID technology communicates with your operating system. BeyondRAID communicates with your OS about how much disk space you have, up to 16TB (this varies with older operating and file systems). Specifying a larger amount of storage than is physically available allows you to grow into the volume without having to reformat or migrate your data in order to add capacity. BeyondRAID automatically also reclaims space as you delete files.
Drobo is highly automated storage. There are no complex configuration screens, DIP switches, confounding choices, web consoles or other complications that prevent so many other storage devices from working out of the box.
One long-standing requirement inherent in traditional RAID-based systems was that if for some reason you needed to remove the drives, you'd have to replace the drives in the exact same order. When you remove your disks from Drobo, you can put them back in any order you like.
|Drives and Expansion||
|Operating System Support||
|File System Options||
|Additional Software Features||
|Power and Cooling||
Sample Light Indicators Diagram
Use these interactive tools to estimate the amount of data storage available to fit your needs.
Drag drives and place them into the slots. To remove one from a slot just click on it.
This tool is for approximating the space utilisation with various mixed disk configurations. Actual disk sizes can vary between vendors, and values calculated may differ slightly from actual results. Please refer to Drobo Dashboard for precise data calculations for storage installed in your Drobo.
Download the Drobo 4 Bay Datasheet (.PDF)